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NCFS stresses prevention during Fire Safety Month

COVINGTON - There's a good reason the Newton County Fire Service is stressing fire safety education for youngsters - it works.

"Prevention is the best tool to stop it (a fire or an injury) before it occurs," said Lt. Cydnie Taylor, fire safety educator for NCFS. "Prevention is becoming more and more the thing to do because they see it working."

Taylor said she is excited about all the new initiatives that are kicking off for Fire Safety Month in October, which will hopefully prevent tragedies in Newton County.

One of the new things is an updated NCFS Web site - www.newtonfireservice.org.

There visitors will find a calendar of upcoming educational events conducted by the fire service, as well as applications to apply for firefighters to visit your school, club or community group.

"It's real simple and real user-friendly," she said.

Also, Taylor has posted a series of three short video clips that stress safety. The clips will be changed out periodically, but the ones that are currently posted stress campus safety, home fire prevention and kids' safety.

"It's so people will go there at anytime. It's just another tool for fire prevention," Taylor said.

Taylor said everyone is excited about the new Fire and Life Safety House that was recently purchased with a federal grant.

"We will unveil it the end of October as we're still learning about it," she said. "We'll smoke it up and teach kids how to escape in case of fire, and it has a heated door where they can touch it and feel that it's heated."

The 36-foot mobile unit simulates fire and smoke so youngsters can safely see the dangers of fire.

Taylor said it has a fire alarm that has a handle that must be pulled in order to activate, similar to those found in school hallways.

"It has a stove that we use to teach stove and cooking safety with a simulated pot on fire, a fireplace and a severe weather package," Taylor said. The weather unit simulates an approaching tornado and includes a 24-minute presentation that teaches youngsters safety measures to take in the event of a tornado.

"The unit is a real big leap for the Fire Department and for Newton County," she said.

During October, Taylor and three other firefighters will debut a new clown act during school fall festivals that will also teach youngsters about safety.

"All our guys are committed, but these three guys went over and beyond and went into fire prevention and went to clown school," she said.

Taylor said youngsters seemingly can't get enough of hands-on teaching from the firefighters.

"They just love it. When they're learning in a fun way, they seem to learn better. They remember it and they remember us," she said.

She said when firefighters take their fire trucks to the school, they've begun to stress to the youngsters that becoming a firefighter is more than just showing up at a burning house with a hose.

"We tell them they have to graduate high school. They have to be good in math to become a driver because you have to know math to get the water to the truck and then to the firemen. They have to be able to read map books," she said. "We try to let them know they have to be squared away in school before they can actually become firefighters."

Taylor said the NCFS is hoping to launch a new educational program called "Risk Watch" in Newton County schools that was developed by the National Fire Protection Association.

She said the program gives youngster and their families skills and knowledge to create safer homes and communities. It addresses the eight most common injuries sustained by children under 14, stressing seat belt and car seat safety; fire prevention; choking and strangulation prevention; poisoning prevention; fall prevention; firearm safety, bicycle and pedestrian safety; and water safety.

She said she had appointments with school principals to discuss the possibility of using the curriculum in their schools.

For more information on the educational opportunities available through the NCFS, go to www.newtoncountyfireservice.org or call 678-625-5025.